Our Team

Our Team of Dance Instructors


Sunshine's Dance & Cheer Studio has recruited some of the Bay Area's most accomplished and talented dance instructors, each of whom brings their own personal approach to the dance floor. See below who they are:

Miss Samantha Gaskin
Founder/Instructor

Originally from Houston, Texas Samantha Gaskin has a joy and passion for all forms of dance. This love for dance has blossomed through her study, choreography, and performance of dance for more than 26 years. She has studied ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop styles of dance all over the Bay Area. Samantha has been dancing since the age of 5 years old and hasn’t stopped since. During high school Samantha studied dance on a recreational level and had the opportunity to perform as a member of the Willowridge dance team in Missouri City, Texas.

While in college Samantha was a member of the cheerleading team and performed in shows collaborating jazz, hip-hop and contemporary for local R&B and hip hop artist. Samantha performed for many years on the competition team at Dance 10 Performing Arts Studio in Alameda, California under the direction of Pam Drake.

In 1999, Samantha made the prestigious Oakland Raiderette Cheerleading team where she performed for 3 seasons under the direction of Karen Kovac. In, her second season as a Raiderette Samantha was selected to perform on a special caberet variety show team for the Raiderettes where she performed at special corporate and charity events. In her final season cheering for the Oakland Raiders, Samantha was selected to represent the team in Bosnia and Kosovo to entertain for the troops overseas.

From 2008-2010 Samantha served as head coach for the San Ramon Valley High School Freshmen cheerleading team. As coach she led her team to first place in several local competitions.

Samantha has 10 years of experience teaching dance and cheerleading to young children at different bay area elementary schools, high schools, recreation centers and dance studios giving her a wide spectrum of experience. Samantha’s passion for dance and her love of children is evident in her teaching style. She both inspires and nurtures all of her students. Samantha’s goal is to provide a fun, exciting, and inspiring atmosphere for her students. She aspires to share her love for dance and allow all of her students to acquire the same love.

Miss Maya Denise Gaskin 
Tap/Hip Hop Instructor

Maya Denise has been dancing since the age of two, and has technical training in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, pom, contemporary, and ballet folklorico. She was apart of the Golden State Warriors Jr Jam Squad, received a scholarship to the American Dance Training Camp 2016, and was also the recipient of NUVO’s Teen Hip Hop StandOut Scholarship to attend the Dancerpalooza intensive. During her two years of dancing with the Jr jam Squad, Maya Denise, performanced with Aloe Blacc and Montell Jordan, she also Participated in the 2015 NBA Championship Parade Celebration and received a championship ring. Her Tap solo placed 1st place overall in the age category at Spotlight Dance competition and Placed 2nd at Bravo Dance competition in small group Hip Hop division Maya Denise Played Claire in Sunshine Dance & Cheer studios rendition of The Nutcracker. She currently is on California High Schools Varsity song team, and performs at all of the varsity football, and basketball games.Maya Denise is an active cadette girl scout and serves as Miss Contra Costa County's Outstanding Teen 2017, Miss Central California OT 2018, and Miss Los Angeles OT 2019 , California Teen International Junior Miss 2020, and Currently holds the title of Miss Arizona Collegiate 2021.  

Miss Angela "AJ" McConnell

                                      Ballet/Jazz Instructor

Angela became a professional dancer while balancing academics, sports, and her passion to learn all dance forms. Turning her dreams into reality, she continued to evolve as she trained at and with various studios and master programs throughout New York, Northern and Southern California, where she learned various dance styles such as; ballet, jazz, hip- hop, contemporary, and various cultural genres. In 2004, Angela aka “AJ” graduated from UCLA earning a degree in World Arts and Cultures with a special interest in performance and choreography. To date, “AJ” continues to dance for various commercial and industrial events. She has taught at San Jose City College, Evergreen College, West Valley College, Concord High School, Oxnard Elementary, Santa Clara State, Chabot College, guest taught at Standford, and San Francisco Jewish Community Center.

To her credit, “AJ “ has danced with various well known artist dance masters, choreographers, and programs, such as: Ronnie Reddick ("City Slam" and "La Femme Panache“), Reginald Savage of "Savage Jazz“, “Alvin Ailey“ masters’ programs, renowned Katherine Dunham ( "Dunham Technique“ masters program), Alex De Silva ( "So You Think You Can Dance)," Keith Young ("Academy Awards” for Hustle and Flow), Deborah Floyd, Corey Action/Teela Shine, "New Style Motherlode“, Malonga Casquelourd, Fatima, High Hat, Shaba Doo, 3-6 Mafia, Laurie Anne Gibson ("Making the Band)," Beto Perez ( founder of Zumba), and a host of others. She has graced the stage for many commercial and corporate events nationally and internationally, among them are: Macy's Passport, BeBe Fashion Show, Black Filmmakers Awards, 76th Academy's. Levi, Amena, Women World Cup Soccer (Adidas), Black Choreographers, Coca Cola, Wrigley's, Bill Grahams Presents, Stanford Cancer Research Fundraiser, Pixar Studios, Google, Sony, and many more. Her film, theater, and video credits include: "The Wiz“," "Rent," "Matrix ll & lll," and Carlos Santana‘s "Dirty Dancing."

As Angela continues to evolve she continues to pursue challenges and desires that she is most passionate about. She has envisioned a dance program that would invite people to experience, experiment, and enjoy while taking care of their physical and mental wellbeing. To her, dance is therapeutic and represents freedom, brings joy, appreciation, love, creativity, expression, and life. It is simply "food to one's mind, body, and soul".